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Congratulations Jennifer!

February 22, 2017—Jennifer Trueblood has received a two-year Research Fellowship from the Alfred P Sloan Foundation. These highly prestiguous awards are given “to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise….in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field. ”Congratulations Jennifer!!!!

Congratulations Geoff!

February 8, 2017—Geoff Woodman has been selected as a Chancellor’s faculty Fellow in the 2017 class, a title he will hold for two years. This is one of VU’s most prestigious awards, given to twelve recently tenured faculty to recognize their accomplishments and provide support and activities for further career development. This makes the second faculty member from our Department to be singled out for this distinction - Bunmi Olatunji was in the Class of 2015.

Congratulations Suzana!

November 18, 2016—

Suzana Herculano's book, entitled The Human Advantage, is reviewed in the November 24 issue of the New York Review of Books.

Bachorowski Interviewed on NPR!

November 18, 2016—

NPR's Radiololab (Season 4, Episode 1) interviewed Jo-Anne Bachoroswki on her research on laughter.

Congratulations Megan!

September 23, 2016—

Megan Ichinose is on the Chancellors mental health initiative committee!

Congratulations Isabel & Tom!

September 12, 2016—Congratulations on a new three-year grant from the National Science Foundation on Measuring, Mapping, and Modeling Perceptual Expertise; PI is Isabel Gauthier, co-PI is Thomas Palmeri, and Senior Investigators are Sun-Joo Cho from Vanderbilt, Gary Cottrell from UCSD, and Mike Tarr and Deva Ramanan from Carnegie Mellon. This project supports a collaborative interdisciplinary research network that aims to develop measures of individual differences in visual recognition, relate behavioral and neural markers of individual differences, develop models that explain individual differences, and relate models with neural data.

Congratulations, David and Camilla!

September 9, 2016—Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth Discussed in Nature The SMPY (Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth) was the topic of a feature news article published in the journal Nature on September 8th. The SMPY was found by Professor Julian Stanley in 1972, and is now run by Professor David Lubinski and Dean Camilla Benbow. Congratulations to David and Camilla on a fascinating article about an amazing research study.



March 27, 2017 – Vanderbilt Vision Seminar Series

Jorge Riera Diaz, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Florida International University

How Does Biophysical Modeling Help Understand Neuroimaging Data in Epilepsy?


In this presentation I will first demonstrate the importance of ion diffusion when performing brain source analysis using EEG and MEG data. We evaluated the physiological range for ion diffusion in the brain from such an extreme pathological to normal conditions. By introducing a diffusive component in the electrophysiological inverse problem, laminar profiles of the neuronal generators were extracted from combined EEG-MEG data. Second, we found particular dysfunctions in the neuro-vascular/metabolic coupling that impacted on the waveform of the hemodynamic response function (HRF), which is crucial for any fMRI analysis. In particular, we proposed useful methods to separate HRF negativities caused by abnormal hyperemic/metabolic responses in epileptogenic cortical regions from those originated from vascular stealing/leaking effects. Finally, we provided evidence for the importance of modeling the epileptic network in the context of a dynamically evolving system. We conclude that in order to improve neuroimaging protocols currently in use in many hospitals worldwide for defining epileptogenic networks inside the brain, diffusional brain current components and abnormalities in HRF models need to be incorporated.

March 27, 2017 – Quantitative Methods Colloquium Series

Quantitative Methods Double Feature: Nathan Kuncel and Pascal Deboeck

Critical thinking in higher education: Meaning and measurement
Nathan Kuncel, University of Minnesota Dept. of Psychology

Everyone wants Critical Thinking. Critical Thinking has been identified as an essential skill for the 21st Century Workforce. Colleges make claims that their graduates are infused with critical thinking. Parents, teachers, and school administrators say they want students to learn critical thinking. But what exactly is this thing? I will discuss a series of studies examining the measurement and meaning of critical thinking in educational, vocational, and everyday life settings. It turns out that critical thinking is both a lot less and a lot more than most people think.

Using derivatives to articulate theories and models of change
Pascal Deboeck, University of Utah Dept. of Psychology

Language plays an important role in the substantive theories we develop, and the statistical models that we choose to test. This presentation will begin by introducing three simple words for describing change — level, velocity, and acceleration. These words can serve to integrate many different, existing models of change into a common framework. Moreover, these words can also allow for the building of novel models of change. An example on peer victimization will be explored to highlight differences between common modeling practices, and the potential perspective gained by using derivatives to articulate theories of change.

March 28, 2017 – Clinical Science Brown bag Series

Rebecca Cox

Department of Psychology (Olatunji Lab)

Vanderbilt University


Wilson Hall room 316


“Prospective links between sleep disturbance and maladaptive repetitive thought: Implications for anxiety-related disorders”


Although considerable evidence has linked sleep disturbance to symptoms of psychopathology, including repetitive negative thinking, few studies have examined how sleep disturbance may predict repetitive negative thinking over time. Further, no study to date has examined specific mechanisms that may account for this relationship. The present studies sought to address these gaps in the literature by testing focusing and shifting attentional control as two potential mediators of the relationship between sleep disturbance and repetitive negative thinking over a three- and six-month period. Attentional control refers to an individual's capacity to choose what they pay attention to and what they ignore. Results suggest that focusing, but not shifting, attentional control mediates the relationship between sleep disturbance and repetitive negative thinking, specifically worry, rumination, and obsessions over time. These findings provide preliminary evidence for focusing attentional control as a candidate mechanism that may explain the causal role of sleep disturbance in the development of repetitive negative thinking observed in various anxiety-related disorders

March 29, 2017 – CCN Brown Bag Series

Frank Tong

Department of Psychology Tong Lab

Vanderbilt University


Wilson Hall Room 113

“Behavioral characterization and modeling of visual working memory” 

In this talk, I will discuss one branch of my lab's research that focuses on behavioral and psychophysical methods to characterize visual working memory. A key theme will be how much (or how little!) we understand about it, and how best to conceptualize the representations utilized by visual working memory. It is well documented that working memory suffers from a severe capacity limit — it is a central bottleneck of the mind. However, researchers have proposed divergent models to account for the capacity limits of visual working memory, ranging from slot models that propose a discrete item limit to resource-based models that propose no upper bound to the number of items that can be maintained. Critically, most models conceptualize the information stored in working memory in an abstracted manner, without consideration of how the nature of the visual information to be maintained might affect the precision of working memory or the coding of relations between items. Here, I will describe some of our forays into this arena, focusing on the visual orientation as an effective test bed to evaluate and compare current models and to investigate the potential role of grouping/chunking in visual working memory. 

March 29, 2017 – Seminars in Neuroscience: Brain, Mind, and Society

Control of Synaptic Connectivity by Astrocytes

Cagla Eroglu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Neurobiology
Duke University Medical Center

Sponsored by the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and the Silvio O. Conte Neuroscience Research Center at Vanderbilt

March 30, 2017 – Neuroscience Brown Bag Series

Jennifer Coppola

Department of Psychology

Vanderbilt University


Wilson Hall Room 316

“Dual-immunofluorescence of the m1 acetylcholine receptor and calbindin or calretinin in macaque MT”

Inhibitory interneurons of the primate cortex comprise heterogeneous populations, with considerable structural and functional diversity. Traditionally, these populations were classified based on their morphologies. More recently, immunohistochemical markers have become a prevalent alternative for classification. In the present study, we use calcium-binding protein markers to quantify and characterize expression of the m1 acetylcholine receptor by inhibitory neurons in macaque middle temporal area MT. These results will be compared to known m1 receptor expression by parvalbumin-immunoreactive neurons in MT quantified in a previous study. Our results indicate that the majority of calbindin-immunoreactive neurons express the m1 receptor, while only few calretinin-immunoreactive neurons express the m1 receptor. Because of the morphological variation in neurons that express calcium-binding proteins, their activation likely results in different forms of inhibitory regulation of a cortical circuit. As such, variation in the expression of cholinergic receptors by these cell types may result in differences in the neuromodulation of cortical areas exerted by acetylcholine.